Vanilla flavoring, bleach, hay bales, and cell phones have one thing in common -- they may be dangerous goods. Being able to identify you have dangerous goods is the first step in compliance. It is critical that organizations do not treat dangerous goods as a set-it-and-forget-it training for employees. It must be continuous and ongoing as the risks are more than financial.
Identify and Classify
The shipper is responsible for identifying and classifying products that present a hazard when transported. It's easy to recognize some products are dangerous when transported, such as gasoline is flammable. But what about first-aid kits, frozen vegetables, or vanilla flavoring? Think about the characteristics and possible risks each product poses to health, safety, property or the environment when transported. If you are not sure, check the product's safety data sheet.
First-aid kits may contain isopropyl alcohol, iodine and hydrogen peroxide. Vanilla flavoring contains ethyl alcohol, and dry ice is used to keep vegetables frozen. Note that trade names are not to be used when identifying dangerous good. Freon® 14 is a trade name, whereas Tetrafluoromethane is the proper shipping name and would be required on shipping papers.
Select the most appropriate packaging to the product being shipped. Make sure to restrict quantity limits to those in the regulations, found in 49 CFR 172.101 for rail and road, the blue pages in the IATA DGR air shipments or to those listed in the IMDG DGL for ocean shipping.
Be sure the packaging is not damaged and is free from contamination arising from the filling or assembly process.
Mark and Label
Marks are the required information on the outer packaging, whereas labels are printed hazard-warning notices. They detail what is in the package, hazards posed to those handling it, and any special handling requirements. Minimum marking requirements are full name and address of the shipper and consignee, proper shipping name, identification number, net quantity, orientation arrows for liquids, and UN Specification packaging marking. Diamond-shaped hazard labels must be used for the primary and subsidiary hazards, as required.
Shipping paper requirements vary by mode. Road, rail and ocean dangerous goods shipments do not require a specific document or format; only certain elements that must be present. Most commonly used forms for surface-based transport modes are bills of lading and multimodal dangerous goods forms. For air shipments, a Shippers Declaration of Dangerous Goods is required, which has a specific form and format.
The required elements found on all documents are the identification number, proper shipping name, hazard class (subsidiary hazard class(es)), packing group, quantity and type of packaging, a certification statement, signature, and a 24-hour emergency telephone number.
With more than a million shipments every day in the United States, getting dangerous goods shipping right hinges on successful training. Waiting two or three years for refresher training is not a best practice, especially with the number of changes occurring in order to be compliant. And teach the process so employees are able to apply it in any given situation.
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